I know that consumer grade digital cameras like ours has a vast DOF by default. I find it very frustrating since I can't afford a professional digital camera yet. Is there any way I can narrow the DOF on my C3030Z and get that wonderful blurred out background? Even at f2.8(the widest apeture available on the C3030Z), I still get crystal clear background with my portrait/figure work.
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Re: DOF problem? How to solve it???
Generally speaking, longer lenses have less depth of field than wide angle lens. You already know that larger aperatures also give you less depth of field. So, try a combination of both and hopefully, that should blur the background sufficiently. Also, longer focal lengths are better for portraiture anyway.
By the way, I would consider the 3030 as a pretty advanced camera, even if it's not 'professional grade'.
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If you're using the point&shoot modes, use the Portrait mode. For more control you're going to want the PSAM modes.
What you want is a narrow depth of field. Depth of field is controlled by three factors. The first is the lens aperture: the wider the aperture (smaller f/numbers) the narrower the DoF. The second is the lens focal length: the longer the lens the narrower the DoF. The third is the camera-to-subject distance: the nearer you are to the subject the narrower the DoF.
The easiest way to control the aperture is to use the A mode. This lets you set the aperture and the camera will automatically set the appropriate shutter speed to give the proper exposure.
You can zoom in farther and move in closer (yes, the two are in conflict, you'll have to determine the proper position and focal length for the picture you want).
You're trying for what's called a narrow depth of field. DoF is controlled by three factors: distance from camera to subject, lens focal length, and lens aperture. The closer the camera is to the subject, the narrower the DoF. The longer the lens focal length, the narrower the DoF. The larger the lens aperture, the narrower the DoF.
Get as close to the subject as practical, and use as long a focal length as practical. I realize these two aims conflict with each other. For portraits, you want a focal length in the 50-90mm range and move in to fill the frame.
You want to shoot with as wide an aperture as you can. Unfortunately most lenses are not at their sharpest wide open. Also, the 18-55mm lens doesn't open up all that wide, f/3.5 at 18mm and f/5.6 at 55mm. To get the widest aperture, you can shoot in the P or A modes. If you don't want to leave the point&shoot modes, try using the Portrait mode.
Since you're not paying for film, I suggest you experiment with the different settings and shooting setups, moving closer and farther from the subject, using different focal lengths, and using different apertures, and see what results you get.
What you want is a limited depth of field. There are three factors that control the depth of field: subject distance, lens focal length, and lens aperture. The greater the distance, the wider the DoF. The shorter the lens, the greater the DoF. The smaller the aperture, the greater the DoF.
One problem with compact cameras is that they have very small sensors. This means that they have short lenses. And short lenses mean they have wide depth of field. This is often an advantage, in that more of the scene is in focus. Unfortunately, this works against you when you don't want a wide DoF.
At the short end, the S2's lens focal length is 6mm. This will put just about everything in focus. Even at the other end, the focal length is 72mm. With a 35mm film camera, most portrait photographers use lenses at least 85mm in focal length in an attempt to minimize DoF to draw attention to the face and blur the background.
Unfortunately, the best you'll be able to do is to set the camera to the portrait mode, get as close to the subject as possible, and zoom in as much as possible. I realize the last two conflict with each other, you'll just have to find the proper balance for whatever you're photographing.
Your camera is designed solely as a digital stills camera with some video recording ability. At the basic hardware level it has no means of providing a live external video feed. The vast majority of digital cameras have the same limitation.
Is the lens clean? Are you pressing the shutter button half-way and giving the camera a chance to lock in the focus (it will beep) before pressing the rest of the way? Do you actually move while pressing the button? Try taking a few pics while the camera is on a tripod or a firm surface to eliminate movement.
You want to reduce the depth-of-field so that the subject is in focus while the foreground and background are out of focus and blurred. Depth of field (DoF) is dependent on three factors: distance, lens aperture, and lens focal length.
The farther the subject, the deeper the DoF. If you take a picture of a distant mountain peak, the mountain behind that and sunlit the clouds on the horizon will also be in focus. If you get close enough to a flower, you might get the front petals in focus while the petals in the back might blur.
The smaller the lens aperture, the deeper the DoF. Landscape mode, for example, will try to use a smaller aperture in order to get everything in focus while portrait mode will try to use a larger aperture in order to blur the background.
The shorter the lens focal length, the deeper the DoF. This is the killer. Due to the small size of the image sensor, the EX-Z750 has a very short lens: 7.9mm to 23.7mm. Even at the telephoto end of the range, 23.7mm would be considered very wide by film photograpers. A 24mm lens would give film photographers a sharp shot from foreground to horizon and, unfortunately, you're seeing that as well.
Note that the DoF is dependent on the actual focal length, not the 35mm equivalent you may have read about. This is a law of physics, not something that lens designers can easily alter.
One problem is that a D70 viewfinder is dark to start with. I don't notice this when shooting with mine unless I pick up my old Pentax Spotmatic for some reason, and then I am reminded how bright an optical viewfinder can be. So, in many cases, you will find the DOF preview useless not because it isn't working, but because the scene is simply too dark for you to see the differences.
Second thing is to notice what DOF you are seeing when you DON'T have DOF pressed. I think all modern cameras give you viewfinder at wide open aperatures -- so until you press DOF, you are seeing the focal depth produced by your lens' widest aperature. So don't expect to see much difference if you hit DOF with the aperture set at 2.2 on a F/1.8 lens -- you're comparing very similar lens apertures.
In fact, I notice that with my F/1.8 lens, I don't see any differences in where my focus lies until I have closed the lens down to maybe F/8. But beyond there, I can clearly see that more and more of the scene is in focus.
If you're still curious but not seeing it, try some test shots. Change the aperture and using shutter time to compensate, and see if your photo DOF matches the preview.
In order to work with depth-of-field, two things are essentially contributors to fully focused image without depth, 1) it depends on your lens focal length 18-70mm or 70-200mm, 2) your f-stop. 2.8 (large iris) or 30 (small iris).
Simply put, a smaller iris (>15 fstop) increases the DOF, or makes things in front-of and behind the subject more visible/clear. Larger iris (<15 ftop) reduces the DOF, or makes things in front-of and behind the subject less focused/recognizable.
There's quite a lot that goes in to DOF, so check out the link above for the details.
DOP decreases with longer focal lengths. This means you would want to stand further away from your subject and zoom in, instead of standing close and taking a wide angle shot. The macro mode is still a good idea, though.